Should You Buy or Build an Employee App for Business Communication?
Last updated on November 15, 2022 at 09:25 pm
When it comes to employee apps for business communication, you may wonder if it’s best to buy or build an employee app. This is a question that we have addressed with many clients. The challenge facing many organizations is that they possess in-house teams and talent that can build mobile apps. But it really comes down to not “Can we do it?” but “Should we do it?”
Should We Build Our Employee App For Business Communication?
Often, internal communication teams have to work with IT when deciding whether or not you should buy or build an employee app. IT has to focus on cybersecurity, tech management, and their budget. But internal comms also need a solution with the right functionality that’s also easy to use. That’s why these teams can so often be at odds. IC pros don’t necessarily speak tech, and IT pros don’t necessarily understand communication strategy.
But the fact is, many companies see the advantages to buying an employee app, rather than building it themselves. The advantages are many:
- Speed to market
- Lower startup costs
- Enhanced security
- Built-in client services
- An established platform that’s been used by hundreds of organizations (i.e. you know it will work!)
- Continued future development
- Lower maintenance costs—especially relative to the ongoing maintenance, development, and support needed
Of course, when you build your own app, you have the ability to customize it exactly to your specifications since it’s all done in-house. But in the long run, the benefits of building don’t outweigh the perks of buying. If you’re currently struggling to make the case to IT for the employee app you need, this guide on working with IT to evaluate and select tech vendors can help.
Why Choose Our Employee App?
Once Internal Comms and IT are on the same page with the buy or build debate, then you have the task of selecting the right employee app for your company’s needs. Companies with mostly office-based or computer workers may find great success with tools like Teams or Slack. But if your company has a lot of field-based, frontline workers, you’ll need a mobile solution catered more towards communication and not collaboration.
Our solution is great for organizations with mainly deskless employees. So, we’ll break down the primary benefits of buying theEMPLOYEEapp rather than building your own solution or going with another vendor.
We can have your app up and running in a matter of days. We work with your IT and internal communications teams to:
- Build out deployment and rollout plans
- Creating a mobile content strategy for the app
- Streamline the process of delivering the app to your organization efficiently
If you built an app yourself, the process would take an average of three to six months. When you work with an app provider, you can get up and running much faster. This enables you to pilot the product and launch it to your full team in mere weeks.
Projects of this scope are expensive. Everything that goes into making an app—concepting, project management, IT development hours, QA testing—can really add up. Not to mention there is the opportunity cost.
If you allocate existing project and technical resources to building and subsequent maintenance of the app, what other initiatives will you have to delay or move from your roadmap? Where are you taking resources away from or where would you source development talent?
When building apps in-house, scoping of costs are often brought into question. According to a McKinsey survey of IT executives, projects of this scope often run over budget 45% of the time, while delivering 56% less value than planned.
While you can attempt to manage all these costs internally, the largest cost is still yet to come: the ongoing maintenance.
- SaaS apps are based on Android and iOS platforms, which change often and require immediate attention.
- Rounds of testing and deployment are needed after each update and build.
- New features require additional scoping, budget, and resources.
Security is a hot-button issue when it comes to apps. Not just for you as an organization, but for your employees.
Because employee communications apps are often installed on personal smartphones, employees want to know that their user data is safe and that their organization isn’t acting as “Big Brother” watching them on their personal devices. Even if you intend to only use your powers for good, there might be an added hurdle to overcome with your employees.
But it also needs to pass cybersecurity requirements. Not to mention, you’ll need a robust permission structure to make sure employees only see content intended for them. You’ll need to:
- Make your server accessible outside of firewalls
- Automatically remove employees who leave the company from the app and vice versa
- Be able to target content, folders, events, etc.
- Have a robust CMS where administrative permissions can be assigned
- Have secure login flow (not to mention, employees are going to be expecting to be able to log in using face/touch ID or single sign-on)
To Buy or Build An Employee App?
You don’t know what you don’t know. As incredible as your IT team is, you aren’t in the business of making apps for employee communications specifically. And at theEMPLOYEEapp, we aren’t just a team of engineers. We’re a team of communicators. We understand the key challenges that this kind of technology needs to solve. We understand the end-user experience. And we have access to the data—how do other organizations like yours in terms of size, industry, and/or use-case, get the most out of the app?
If you build your app in-house, you miss out on the following benefits of buying:
- Customer Support. At theEMPLOYEEapp, we assign every company a Customer Success Account Manager. They are there to help you set up your app and deploy it successfully, but they’re also there for ongoing strategic support, consultative services, and sharing best practices.
- Client Community. One thing that sets us apart from our competitors is our community of clients. We regularly bring teams together from different organizations to share best practices and wisdom. If you keep everything in-house, you lose that outside advantage.
- Ongoing Development. Since building employee apps is what we do, we’re always working on new product features and enhancements. No need to pull your own internal team members off of a project to develop new functionality.
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